Friday, February 26, 2010

Tomato Chickpea Florentine Soup

Well, it looks as though we are heading toward the end of February—finally! The “cruelest month” certainly earned its dismal moniker this year, in my opinion. There is another storm forecast for us, with high winds and another possible 5-7” of new snow. Fine. Let Mother Nature get this all out of her system. To me, March signals Spring and finally, there is a light at the end of this dismal Winter tunnel.

Of course, once warmer weather does arrive, there will be a lot of cleanup around here. Trees lost branches, the gutters have to be replaced because the weight of the ice dams distorted them, my beautiful holly bushes have been decimated by unusually hungry deer and will need to be severely pruned. One thing that breaks my heart is that my beautiful lilac bush was split into several pieces by the weight of snow and ice. I still cannot get close enough to access the damage, but if I am lucky it will have to be cut back to 25% of its original size. I planted this bush the first spring we were here, in 1984, because I had always loved purple lilacs, and because my Gram had always loved them as well (and I loved my Gram). In the last several years, it has been absolutely stunning when in full bloom. I don’t know, if I am able to cut it back (versus replacing it), if it will ever reclaim even a part of its former glory before we leave here, retiring to a hopefully more temperate climate.

For now, however, we have prepared for another snowstorm. I have filled several large jugs of water in case the power goes out again (although I hope that it will not, I am still a little nervous since we had no heat or water for over six days earlier this month). I am keeping the used dishes and cooking utensils washed, and am making it a point to run the garbage disposal every time put something down it. Until the threat of a power loss is over, I won’t use the dishwasher. Several years ago the electricity went out after a particularly nasty summer storm. There were dirty dishes in the dishwasher, stuff in the disposal waiting to be whirled and swept away into the septic, a load of white clothes soaking in the washing machine… and they all stayed where they were for four days until the power was restored. Ick. I learned my lesson that time!

I’ve planned a couple of days of menus and took everything I need out of the big freezer, so if I have to transfer things from the refrigerator to the back porch, it will only be from the smaller kitchen refrigerator/ freezer. I won’t have to open the big freezer, and recent experience has shown that food will stay well in there for up to 5 days.

I also made a pot of soup which can be reheated on the stove and which we also can wrap our cold fingers around mugs of while waiting for the heat to come back on. If need be.

While making dinner the other evening, I opened a can of garbanzo beans by mistake. I was in a hurry, grabbed a can from the dim basement shelves which I thought was coconut milk, and opened it without looking at the label. Pretty stupid move, there. So today I made a tomato-vegetable-chickpea soup for lunch.

This was a very good soup; thick, flavorful and packed with veggies and non-meat protein. Served with a slice of whole-wheat Italian bread, it was a perfect lunch for a blustery winter day.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Tomato Chickpea Florentine Soup

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot

3/4 teaspoon minced garlic

4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1 cup water

14 ounces crushed tomatoes -- (canned)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried basil -- crumbled

3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary -- crumbled

9 ounces cooked chickpeas -- approximate amount from a 15-ounce can, drained

1/2 cup ditalini -- or other small "soup" pasta

2 ounces fresh spinach -- chopped

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper -- optional

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a 2-quart pot. Add onion and carrot and sauté over medium heat until onion is soft, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the stock, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and stir in the brown sugar and herbs. Turn the heat down to simmer, cover partially, and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and ditalini and cook until the pasta is tender, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add spinach, stir, and cook for another minute or two. Season with pepper and divide between soup bowls. Sprinkle with cheese.

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Per serving: 289 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat (3g Saturated); (24% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 42g Carbohydrate; 4mg Cholesterol; 304mg Sodium